Pull-Ups for Muay Thai

Pull-Ups are fantastic body weight exercise for improving your overall back and grip strength. Not only that, it is one of the more popular exercises for those who are training for Muay Thai.

In this short informative article, we’ll be telling you:

  • What a pull-up is
  • The muscles it works
  • How to perform a pull-up
  • What to avoid while doing it
  • How this helps Muay Thai

Here’s what we’ve got for you:

What is a Pull-Up?

In short, a pull-up is a compound upper-body movement that involves you placing your hands on a bar above your ahead with your palms facing forwards. You then pull yourself from the ground by bending your elbows until your head is over the bar, then releasing yourself back down.

That’s it in short, and doing it can be incredibly useful in sports like Muay Thai by the muscles it works.

What muscles does this exercise work?

A pull-up is a strong upper body movement and works the following muscles in your body:

  • Biceps – Upper Arm
  • Forearms – Lower Arm
  • Lats – Back
  • Traps – Back Neck
  • Rhomboid – Inner Back
  • Teres Major – Back Shoulder
  • Infraspinatus – Shoulder Blade Muscles
  • Pecs – Chest
  • Erector Spinae – Lower Back
  • External Oblique – Side Abdominals

As you can see, it’s a lot of muscles that are getting attention.

How to Perform a Pull-Up

Here is our step-by-step guide to performing a pull up.

1. Get In Position

You first want to get into position before you do a pull up. To do this, get under the pull-up bar, reach up and grab it with both hands around shoulder-width apart with your palms facing forwards and away from you.

2. Hang from the Bar

And so begins the hard part. For this step you need to bend your legs with your ankles coming up towards your butt. You need to be hanging from the bar by your hands, supporting your entire weight.

3. Begin the Pull-Up

You need to now pull yourself up to the bar. To do so, keep your hands firmly on the bar and pull down on it, like you’re trying to touch your elbows to the floor.

4. Keep Pulling!

At this point, you’ll be really feeling the strain, but you have to keep going. Pull harder and harder until your chin passes the bar.

5. Hold and Release

If your chin has passed the bar, hold the position for a second and then lower yourself back down. Rinse and repeat.

Congratulations, you have just performed a pull up.

Can’t do pull-ups yet? Don’t worry, RezFitness has a great video to help you get started:

What should you avoid while doing pull-ups?

Being strong enough to perform a pull-up is one thing, doing it correctly is another. In this part of the article, we’re going to cover some of the common mistakes people make when doing pull-ups.

1. Not Enough Range of Motion

Range of motion is what makes a pull-up so hard. You have to take your body from straight arms, hanging from a bar, to bending them to pull you all the way up and have your chin come over it.

If you’re not going all the way, you’re not doing a full pull-up. If you can’t do a full pull-up, we suggest revisiting the video we linked from RezFitness.

2. Your Shoulders Aren’t Fully Engaged

This is another common problem. You need to prep your body for the exercise to do it as well as you can. Engaging the shoulder muscles is a core part of this. If they’re not engaged you may fail the exercise or cause yourself some unnecessary strain.

Before you pull yourself up the bar, make sure you’re squeezing your shoulder blades together to get them primed and ready to lift you up.

3. No Kipping Allowed!

Using your momentum is good in several sports – but it’s highly frowned upon in the gym. You’re not using your muscles, you’re letting gravity take care of the hard work for you. Make sure you stop at both the top and bottom of the pull-up to make sure you get the full benefit from the lift, you don’t want to cheat yourself out of any gains.

How do Pull-Ups Help Muay Thai?

The main way that pull-ups can help in a sport like Muay Thai is by how it develops your grip strength. This is great for keeping someone close in a move like a clinch.

If you think about a clinch, you’re directly pulling your opponent towards you and keeping them close. It’s a similar move to a pull-up where you pull yourself up to the bar.

You can use your strength that you have gained from pull-ups to pull your opponent close and work your way into a more advantageous position over them. It can help you to throw them off balance and give your the upper hand.

It also helps by giving you better balance. As you’re pulling yourself up, you’re building better balance and coordination with your upper body, which allows you to hold a stronger position during a clinch which makes it difficult for you to get thrown around.


Pull-ups are great for Muay Thai as they can build up an upper body strength which allows you to get the upper hand in a clinch. It’s also great for developing your overall back and grip strength.

We strongly recommend that you get into the habit of practicing them.